Authors: Mimi Jean Pamfiloff


4.14Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub

Carlos looked up at the hulking man. “Sir, my apologies. I assure you this is not the manner we treat war veterans. I will deal with her.”

“What? This jackass just threw me on the floor,” Sadie barked.

Carlos shot her a look. “Kitchen now.”

Andrus interceded. “I assure you, I am fine. No need to scold the tiny meat wench.”

“Meat wench? Someone needs to beat some manners into you.”

Smirking, the man raised one dark brow and then glanced at his groin. “You may
me anytime you like.”

He did not just insinuate I jerk him off
. Where the hell was that knife? “You disgusting pig!”

“Sadie, get out of my restaurant. Immediately,” Carlos seethed.

She held up her hands. “Fine. No problem.” She looked right up at Andrus. “If I ever see you again,” she growled, “I’ll remove your nut sack with my teeth.”
Wait. That came out all wrong
. Why would she want to put her teeth down there? “I meant…with a butter knife.” Yeah, that sounded more painful. But would also require her to really hold on to those bad boys while she tried to saw them off.
“Or something sharp. I’m not sure.”

The man grinned, clearly enjoying her lame attempt to threaten him.

She shushed him as he was about to speak and left the restaurant.
Great. Fucking great. He tries to murder me, and I get fired.
Still, a part of her wanted to go back there, tear off his clothes, and kiss the hell out of him.
And then kill him.
Because now she’d lost her job. She’d never make up what she owed on the rent.

I’m going to have to do something drastic. But what?






“All right, big boy. I am officially declaring you a dating crime scene.” Standing over Andrus’s bed, a pair of wide turquoise eyes glared down at him.

“Ugh,” he grumbled and rolled onto his stomach. “Go away, Cimil.”

“Ha!” she laughed. “I will pretend that you didn’t just say that because we both know you didn’t mean it. Just like the time you said you didn’t want to see me naked, but I knew you did.”

Dear gods, please make her leave.
He had a raging hangover—two bottles of whisky last night, which was what it took to get drunk given how quickly his body metabolized the alcohol.

“I need sleep, Cimil. And that time you forced me to see you nude left me scarred for months.”

He felt something wet and cold slither across the bottom of his foot. “Holy fuck!” He jumped from the bed, his head whipping from side to side.

Cimil grinned. “Just be glad you’re wearing pants. Minky loves to eat anything that looks like a hot dog.”

He glared at her. “Hot dog? I assure you my penis resembles more of a fine Russian kolbasa.” Yes. The Russians, now they knew how to make cured meats. Just like they knew how to make fearless warriors, like himself. His family had been from St. Petersburg originally, although he’d been living in Paris, attending yet another boring ball, when he’d met Reyna, the queen of vampires and his mate. She’d robbed him of everything he once was, and now all that remained from his past was his iron will.

Andrus noticed Cimil staring hungrily at his crotch.
Dear gods, no.
“Cimil, you are married now. And even if you weren’t—”

“Oh, you think you get a say, do you?” She talked right at his groin. “You think you can boss me around? I am a deity!”

“I am not bossing you around. I’m asserting my free will. You may not have your way with me.”

“Careful. Or I’ll shove my fist right down that little hole.”

Dear fucking gods.
He stepped back, but Cimil’s eyes remained focused on the spot she’d been looking at, not on his crotch.

Thank gods
. She was merely having one of her episodes. He did not want to think about the years of therapy he’d require if she molested him.

“Cimil?” He snapped his fingers. “Who are you speaking to?”


“Cimil!” He clapped loudly.

“Wow!” She shook her head from side to side. “Those leprechauns are intense! All that shiny gold.” She sighed. “So where were we?”

“You were leaving.”

“Great. So it’s all settled, then. Since I’ve now demonstrated you can’t do this woo-wooing on your own, and I can’t afford to let you fail, you will graciously agree to work with the tutor I’ve hired. She’s got just the right personality to help you connect with your inner Prince Charming, and she’s seen you in action. Your classes begin tomorrow at nine in the morning. She will be here at ten.”

Seen me in action?
So that’s really what these warm-up dates were about. Cimil was having some sort of “charm school” teacher secretly evaluate him.

“What exactly do you think this woman can teach me that I don’t already know?” he asked. “And why would classes begin before the instructor arrives?”

Cimil held up her finger and began sliding her other hand over it in an obscene gesture. “You’ll be wanting a little me time with your kolbasa beforehand because your teacher is very, very hot. So if you don’t prepare properly, you won’t be able to concentrate. Did I not already say that?” she replied.

He growled. “No. You didn’t. And I’m not doing this. Whatever godsdamned bullshit you’ve got going, I won’t be a part of it.”

She wagged her finger. “Uh-uh-uh…Remember poor little Matty. Your future baby-mama is going to be at that mixer, and if you don’t get her to kiss you before she leaves, the window will close. Poof. And then you won’t knock her up, won’t live happily ever after, Matty won’t find happiness, and you’ll end up spanking the Russian salami on your own for eternity. Or until Minky eats you. Or Zac flips out and kills every living creature on the planet. Whichever comes first.”

This was preposterous. “I do not need a teacher. Women like me just fine.”

“We’re not talking about those women; we’re talking about one in particular who you can’t afford to fuck up with: your mate Charlotte.”

Her name was Charlotte. Suddenly, knowing her name made everything feel a bit more real.
But not entirely.

Cimil continued, “And your teacher is really an actress. She’s going to teach you to
like a gentleman since we already know you can’t be one.”

“I am a warrior, a trained assassin, an ex-Demilord—”

“You’re an out-of-work manny, and your assassin days are over. There are no more evil vampires.” She took a bow. “Thanks to my evil mastery, they’ve been wiped out. And the Maaskab are pretty much extinct. We left a few around just for shits and giggles. That leaves us only with humans and their dredge of society, which is not your problem, that’s the domain of the gods. So the way I see it, Andrus baby, you. Are. Officially. Retired. Your only remaining purpose is to make the mate plunge.”

Andrus blinked at Cimil, feeling like his entire world had been ripped away. She was right. Up until recently, the world had been filled with evil and on an imminent path to destruction. How Cimil pulled it all off was a mystery, or a miracle, but she’d managed to convince her mate, Roberto, to hunt down and kill his evil brother, thereby eliminating that bloodline and all evil vampires. The Maaskab, who’d allied themselves with Roberto’s brother, some becoming vampires, too, were mostly killed off.

He took a breath. “I-I-I have no purpose. I’m…obsolete.”

Cimil stuck out her lower lip. “Now, now. Don’t get all pouty on me. If we’re all still alive, I’m sure there will be another outbreak of evil immortal villains in a few thousand years. Then we’ll dust you off or ask Minky to burp you out.”

He felt like crying. Not that big, lethal immortal men like him actually cried, but he sure as hell felt like doing it anyway.

“Please leave,” he said.


“Out, Cimil!” he barked.

“Jeez. Fine. I’m leaving,” she said petulantly. “But don’t forget your teacher’s coming tomorrow.”

“Yeah. Whatever.” At this moment, he didn’t give a fuck about any of that. He’d been so wrapped up caring for and protecting little Matty, he’d not seen that his purpose no longer existed.

“I gotta go now anyway. Time to water the children.” She headed for the door. “And BTW, the instructor is mortal and thinks you’re an actor and that I am Bob, her agent. Tootles.” Cimil closed the door behind her.

Marvelous. Fucking marvelous.
Mortals were on a need-to-know basis only. That meant she couldn’t know what he was. For the record, he’d crossed that line where hiding his immortality from humans wasn’t easy. He’d spent far too many years embracing who he was—
which you no longer are
—so obeying the unwritten rule of lying low was like asking a monkey not to pick its fleas.

He sat on the edge of his bed and covered his face, not knowing if he had it in him to exist if the only thing he had to look forward to was his mate, who would likely ruin him.

“I can’t believe it. I’m a relic. Obsolete. Useless.”

Just because your life sucks doesn’t mean you have to ruin Matty’s.

He groaned and then felt something wet and cold slide across his cheek. “Fuck. Cimil!” he screamed. “Take your fucking unicorn with you!”

She popped through the door, reached for something, and then headed out. “Oops,” she mumbled as she disappeared. “Sorry about that. Thought Minky was with me.”





Sadie could not believe her luck. Just when she thought she’d have to choose between heading home or becoming a stripper to make ends meet, she’d gotten a call from her agent, Bob.

“They want to pay me how much?” she asked him, standing in her bedroom slash living room slash kitchen, stirring her mug of instant coffee—complete crap, but the only thing she could afford. These days, dollar-store cuisine was on the menu. It was either that or not having enough money for gas. Thankfully, her car was paid for.

“One hundred thousand.” Bob chuckled like the slimeball that he was. “Minus my twenty percent, of course.”

Bob had been the only talent agent willing to take her on in a town where aspiring actresses were a dime a dozen, and he gave her the jeepers creepers. Meaning, she sometimes had the feeling he was seriously evil. Why were all of the men she met in L.A. rich, superficial assholes, self-centered actors, or authentic stand-ins for Hannibal Lector?

“Seriously? One hundred? Which movie?” She’d auditioned for the new paranormal shifters remake of
Gone with the Wind
Gone Without End—a Southern Tail of Immortal Love
; part two of
Fifty Shades of Zombie
Fifty-One Shades of Grrraaay
; and the slam-dunk blockbuster
—kind of a James Bond meets Poseidon, but with these really mean mermen as the villains. Apparently, the paranormal theme was making a huge Hollywood comeback after a hiatus attributed to
market saturation. But her agent assured her that these were A-list movies.

“Yeah, Sippy,” Bob replied. “That’s the thing. It’s not a movie as much as it is…a coaching gig.”

Why in the world Bob insisted on calling her “Sippy” she’d never know, but it was so damned annoying.

“Sorry? What do you mean by coaching?” she asked.

“The studio needs you to teach the star actor—who’s been hailed as the next Thor—how to act like a gentleman. He’s got one week until the shoot starts.”

They wanted her to train an actor? She supposed it made sense, considering she had years of acting lessons and had won a ton of awards for the small stage productions she’d done back home before deciding to come to L.A. She was definitely a solid actress, but also a very unlucky one. It seemed like every time she had a sure thing in the palm of her hand, disaster would strike—the film’s financing would fall through at the last minute, the studio would decide to shift gears, or—as was the case in the last part she’d been sure of—the casting director went missing. Poof.

“Who am I going to coach? Gerard? Leo? Jack?” she asked.


Oh no.
“This isn’t some porn, is it? I told you no dick flicks, Bob!”

“No, Sippy baby. No. The guy is just a little rough around the edges. Needs a charm-school lesson, so he’ll appeal to that whole rom-com crowd. You know.”

Well, it was a lot of money, and if that was the job, who was she to complain? “Okay. No problem. But is there any chance I’ll get a part in the movie?”

“Meh. Probably not,” Bob replied.

That was disappointing, but this was the kind of money that would keep her afloat for at least another year.

“Done,” she said. It would be a little tight having only one day to prepare, but she’d make it work. She had years of notes, books, binders, and CDs about acting as well as every acting exercise under the sun. It wouldn’t take long to dig through it all and come up with a few lessons.

“Ah now, there’s my girl. I’ll shoot you the details and the contract.”

That was odd. “What kind of contract?”

“Details, Sippy. Details.”

“Bob?” she said, warning him with her voice. “What aren’t you telling me?”

“Meh. Well…obviously ya can’t blab to anyone about the man. He’s considered an up-and-comer. Studio wants to protect his public image.”

That was fine. Actors got very touchy about public perception, and calling in another actor, especially someone unknown, to help prep for a part could be seen as a bit lame.

“And…?” she asked.

“Well…it seems the guy has a final audition, more like a check-in, in one week. If he doesn’t get the thumbs-up, the role goes to their second choice and you don’t get paid.”

“What?” she barked.

“Hey, babe, acting is like a garage sale. I don’t make the signs, I just follow them.”

What a weird thing to say

She nibbled her thumbnail, giving it some thought. This was a bit of a risk in that she could end up not getting paid. However, being an actress was her dream, and the way things stood, she’d be out on her butt in less than two weeks, heading back to Cleveland.
Or begging people to let me crash on their couches, like a total loser
. Which was more of a Band-Aid, leading back to Cleveland, not a solution. Tim wasn’t an option either because they were through; although, she remembered trying to call and tell him she didn’t want to see him anymore, but couldn’t remember what happened. Had she left a message or spoken to him? It was the weirdest damned thing.

4.14Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub

Other books

Alcott, Louisa May - SSC 11 by Glimpses of Louisa (v2.1)
05 - Warrior Priest by Darius Hinks - (ebook by Undead)
Every Fear by Rick Mofina
Guiding the Fall by Christy Hayes
A Thousand Acres by Jane Smiley
Thank You, Goodnight by Andy Abramowitz